The Morning Line: 'Zippy' Creator Draws on Real (Pungent) Maryland
I'm occasionally asked how I read "Zippy the Pinhead." Not why I read "Zippy," but literally, HOW I read it. My answer is always some variation of two elements:
1. I toss aside expectations of a traditional comic-strip "progression" to a payoff.
2. I'm always scouring for some Larger Cultural Critique amid the stream of pop references.
Even given my time-worn approach, though, I frankly wasn't sure what to make of creator Bill Griffith's first panel today -- namely, his reference to "the pungent town of Laurel, Maryland." Hard past the fictional town of Dingburg, is Griffith seriously or cheekily having fun at Laurel's expense? (I loosely recall that he's namechecked Laurel before, but not in quite such, um, aromatic fashion.)
Fortunately, Mr. Griffith himself is happy to explain that he has good-spirited fun with Laurel based on reader suggestions:
Laurel has "been noted a number of times in my long-running 'Dingburg' series of Zippy strips," Griffith tells Comic Riffs. "Dingburg is located '17 miles west of Baltimore'---(real) Laurel is a little south of (fictional) Dingburg."
Griffith adds: "You can find out about the 'Real Places' you see in Zippy strips on the Zippy website under the 'Zippy's Roadside Attraction' donut at the top of the" ZIPPY home page.
On Friday, Comic Riffs will take a closer look at one of "Zippy's" real roadside attractions in Maryland. Meantime, we should note that Griffith's book "Welcome to Dingburg" is due out next month.
And if you hunger for a more profound guide to understanding Zippy, we direct you to the cartoonist's own "six-bowling-ball" explanation. Beyond Bill's how-to, though, you're on your own -- which is half the fun of interpreting "Zippy" in the first place.
Our other picks o' the day:
DOING OUR HOMEWORK: We're suckers for comic synergy. Especially when two strips are co-written by the same cartoonist.
Casting our eyes on "Zits" and "Baby Blues" today, we get a probable glimpse of life inside the Jerry Scott household. Jeremy Duncan and Zoe MacPherson share the same backpack-size burden these days, but true to their respective ages and gender stereotypes, Jeremy the Boy Teen internalizes, while young Zoe bemoans her fate loudly with a Calvin-sized mouth.
Both ring true. Both read right. And both are testament to Jerry Scott's mad skills.
And before moving on, we must note: The Scott-Borgman team is apparently declaring itself hard-line astronomic traditionalists, refusing to acknowledge that Pluto has been downgraded to a "dwarf planet" and that our solar system only has eight planets. Fight the good fight, gentlemen!
THE 'MOTHER' OF ALL UNDERGARMENTS: Mike Peters draws female anatomy so strikingly odd in today's "Mother Goose," we can only presume that the dark-shirted woman wearing the apparent conical bra is meant as tabloid-y tribute to Madonna (former icon of such fash) as she weathers her newly announced divorce.
(And by the by: If Superman's so stupid that he cannot write, what is Mike Peters really saying about the state of journalism at the good ol' Daily Planet? Just sayin'.)
THE FEEL-OUR-PAIN AWARD: Tapping America's collective fiscal distress, today's "Speed Bump" is the funniest single-panel we've seen in days.
Perhaps even the funniest since we last dared glance at our evaporated 401(k). We'd weep if we -- thanks to Mr. Coverly -- couldn't laugh.
| October 21, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
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